On June 23, the United States and the Indian navies along with the Indian Air Force held a naval exercise in the Indian Ocean to ‘hone interoperability’. The same day, Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane discussed “bilateral defence cooperation” in a telephonic conversation with the chief of the Japanese Ground-Self Defence Force General Yoshida Yoshihide.
India has maintained that it perceives the Quad as not aimed against anyone, “denied it is an Asian NATO”, stressed on broader issues from vaccine collaboration, to resilient supply chains, and framed its language that avoids irking China. But the belated adoption of broader goals such as climate change and vaccines in the March 12 Quad Leaders’ Summit, to make it more acceptable to other countries, suggested that the target is Beijing.
Only India and Japan have legitimate territorial disputes and are geographically close with China, while the US and Australia’s opposition stems from Great Power contest, China’s socio-political system and ‘repressive’, ‘genocidal’ and ‘militaristic’ policies in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan.
The only tangible dispute Australia has with China was the trade war where the latter’s tariffs cost Australia $3 billion — themselves in response to Australia backing a global inquiry into the COVID-19 origins in April 2020.
While India’s territorial disputes with China are in the Himalayas, Japan contests the Senkaku Islands (or Diaoyu in Chinese) in the East China Sea.